Friday, July 17, 2009

COSATU General Secretary Says "We Don't Control President Zuma"

DURBAN 16 July 2009 Sapa


Cosatu and SACP leaders do not control President Jacob Zuma,
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said in Durban on

"It is not correct that alliance leaders control Zuma. Some
people say Zuma is not a leader because he is failing to stop the
strikes and to stop the debate about nationalisation," he told
delegates attending the union federation's two-day provincial

"People who accuse Zuma of not being a good leader say Cosatu
has gone crazy by organising... strikes. That claim is not backed
by any facts. They say Cosatu will not give Zuma a chance," he

Zuma's call for a debate on nationalising mines was a step in
the right direction.

Cosatu had to redefine its role, he said. The federation needed
to avoid two extremes, one being the government's lapdog, the other
a permanent opposition.

"On one extreme, as we have the man that is sympathetic to us
[Zuma], can mean that we must stop being a revolutionary movement
and be a sweetheart of the government. That is an uncritical lapdog
of the state."

If this were to happen Cosatu members would lose faith in the
organisation and workers would find other champions, he said.

Cosatu was instrumental helping Zuma and other union leaders
into ANC leadership positions during the party's Polokwane
conference in 2007. Most of them were now in government.

There was also a danger the union federation could become a
permanent opposition, which meant it would be the first to
criticise everything the government.

He further called on tripartite alliance partners to continue
being united.

"The biggest enemy of the alliance partners is not the Congress
of the People or the Democratic Alliance, but class materialism.
There is a massive rush to be rich, even within workers' unions."

Most divisions were not ideological, but fuelled by "tender
politics" -fights over government tenders.

Vavi called on Cosatu members to help the SA Medical Association
(Sama), saying its members were not used to unionism. Sama recently
became a Cosatu affiliate.

ANC chairman in KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Zweli Mkhize told delegates
that South Africans needed to support the government's proposed
national health insurance.

"We appeal for more informed debate about the insurance."

He said the question was not whether it would be implemented,
but when.

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